Perhaps it only took about 30 minutes. Perhaps it took as long as one hour.
“… and that’s all of it.”
Ian didn’t interrupt Riley from explaining what transpired in Rainfield, not even once. When Riley finished explaining, Ian fiddled with his chin and maintained silence for a moment.
“Well, you are free to believe it or not believe it.”
Riley quickly laid down on the top of the carriage as if he had no more things to say. At that moment, Ian shook his head and finally opened his mouth.
An infamous dark mage with hefty bounty was roaming around controlling corpses, that dark mage appeared in the Rainfield’s library, the dark mage tried to scheme using Rainfield’s clouds, and Riley stopped that dark mage.
The stories that Riley explained in detail about Rainfield were the kind that were difficult for people to believe.
“… I believe you.”
Despite that, Ian said he believed Riley in such a clear and confident voice. It was to the point of making Riley concerned. Riley casually moved his eyes and looked at the butler.
Riley had his hands together to lock the fingers and placed them below his head. Riley looked at Ian in the eyes and closed his eyes as if he was trying to say that it was fine then.
“Well then, okay.”
Watching Riley closing his eyes, Ian, who had been maintaining a serious look on his face until now, flinched his eyebrows and brought his hand toward Riley’s shoulder.
“Young Master. Should you be going to sleep like that right now? You need to make a decision!”
Although Riley showed himself swinging sword in front of Ian, and although Riley just told Ian unbelievable stories, this old butler was, surprisingly, not acting any differently from before.
“Why, what now again?”
Riley was actually expecting this inside. As if he was giving in, Riley opened his eyes and asked back. Ian said with a serious face,
“If you will be okay with it, we can go to Solia right after taking the children back to Alieve village.”
“Yes. If what Nara said in the letter is true… We should go to Solia immediately and…”
With his fist tightened, Ian mumbled that they should beat that dark mage runt to death immediately. Watching this, Riley asked with a curious look.
“I’m in middle of the successorship competition still, aren’t I? Is it going to be all right to get out of it so carelessly?”
Riley thought Ian might hesitate. However, without a silver of hesitation, Ian asked back like this,
“There is something else that is more important, isn’t there?”
For a very long time, Ian had been wishing for the Young Master he served to become the official successor of the Iphalleta house.
However, that man was saying without any hesitation that Riley should give up on it and they should head to some other place.
Something else that is more important…
Instead of looking after one’s practical interest, the old butler was certain that stopping the dark mage who once lead the people of the Rainfield to the brink of death was more important.
‘A Mercenary Hero, huh…’
Riley looked at Ian in the eyes again and thought about what Nara said before.
‘I can say this with certainty… That bastard Kabal… No matter how famous he becomes using his monstrous strength, he can never obtain the title of the Mercenary Hero like Mr. Ian. Kabal can never come close to the mindset that Mr. Ian has. That’s why.’
People had to come first before everything else.
That was all that Ian was trying to say.
Having heard Ian’s question about there being something else more important, Riley supported his chin on his hand and thought hard about it for a moment.
This news came by when Riley had Nara’s group to tail Rebethra who appeared to be related to Kabal the mercenary who thrown off Riley’s father’s arm because Riley wanted to catch Kabal.
Now, the dark mage from Rainfield reappeared.
This was not the news that Riley hoped for. However, it was an icky news for Riley to just glance over.
‘Is going there the right choice?’
Riley resolved the case in Alieve Village where a kidnapping incident similar to what happened in Riley’s past life had occurred. He was planning on resting leisurely and go back to the mansion, but now, he fell to a deep thought with a vacant look on his face.
“… Young Master, about that…”
While Riley was in a deep thought, Ian, who was standing next to Riley, pointed to the right side with his finger as if he found something.
Riley turned his head toward the direction that Ian pointed and noticed another Iphalleta house’s carriage entering the village. Just like Ian, Riley wiggled his brows.
‘What is this now again?’
Riley stared at the carriage with a dumbfounded look on his face.
“Ah, as I heard, you were here.”
The butler that drove the carriage here was the one who served Lloyd, the second son of the Iphalleta house.
“… Are we here now?”
“Yes, Young Master Lloyd.”
Soon, Lloyd’s voice could be heard from inside the carriage. Riley, wondering what this was about, raised his upper body from lying down position.
The carriage’s door opened, and Lloyd revealed himself from the inside. Wondering what this was about, Riley jumped down from the carriage.
“What brings you here?”
Riley tilted his head side to side and asked. Ian, in silence, stood behind Riley and glared at Lloyd.
They were in middle of the successor competition. The fact that Lloyd, the one who had ill feelings toward Riley and Iris, came to see Riley at this time did not seem like a good sign. This was the reason why.
“Ian, I know what you are thinking, but… That is not why I’m here, so I would appreciate it if you did not glare at me with that look on your eyes.”
Ian had been looking at Lloyd carefully and noticed that the parts below his eyes were turned completely dark somehow. Having noticed this, Ian lowered his head as if he decided to yield.
Lloyd now looked at Riley. Lloyd was going to say something, but after seeing Riley was tilting his head side to side, Lloyd just sighed big.
“I just have something I want to ask. That’s why I came.”
He came although the successor competition was in full swing.
He probably had things he was working on, yet he came here while leaving all those be.
Finding it to be unbelievable, Ian was going to ask. However, Riley reached out to Ian with his right hand and stopped him.
“Yes. If it is something I can answer.”
Having heard Riley’s answer, Lloyd casually looked around the area and then said carefully,
“It does not feel right to talk about it here. Can we go somewhere else?”
Because Riley and Ian had the Alieve Village’s children here at the Holy Temple for treatment, they were not in a situation where they could just leave the spot. Riley casually turned to look at Ian.
“Yes, Young Master.”
“When the children’s treatments are complete, take them to the Alieve Village and come back. I’ll be having a chat with my big brother here.”
Having heard Riley’s order, Ian started to open and close his mouth like a fish in panic.
“B… But… Young Master…”
“I think this conversation is not going to end quickly, so get going.”
“Could you ease up on your worries? You saw that earlier, right? You said you trust me, didn’t you?”
Despite the order, perhaps Ian was concerned about leaving Riley by himself. Ian was not able to leave his side so easily. Having heard what Riley said, Ian finally closed the mouth that he had open.
Lloyd watched the two having a conversation that seemed to have underlying meanings. Lloyd started to walk first as he asked if this will be really all right. Riley followed suit and gestured to Ian.
* * *
“So, what is it that you wanted to ask me that you had to come to see me when we are in middle of the successorship competition?”
Lloyd even had his own butler to be away from the conversation. Lloyd and Riley sat in a hotel with teas on top of a table. Riley fiddled with his fingers.
“Ah, right… I’m sorry. I think I’m sleep deprived.”
Lloyd was sitting there with a blank look on his face. It seemed he really was sleep deprived. The parts below his eyes were completely dark. Lloyd rubbed that darkened part and responded late.
“I want to ask you about… my Big brother.”
They were talking about Ryan, the eldest son of the Iphalleta house.
There was only one person in the world that Lloyd would have addressed as his Big brother.
“Are you talking about Big brother Ryan?”
Riley carefully mumbled the name, and Lloyd carefully nodded.
“That’s right. I have something I want to ask you about my Big brother.”
Riley closed his mouth as if he was trying to say Lloyd should continue. It seemed Lloyd was parched. He took a sip from the tea on the table and started to explain.
“I have been thinking about this a little bit by myself, but no matter how I think about it, I couldn’t be sure. It was too much of a sensitive issue to ask to servants, and I couldn’t ask our father either, so…”
Lloyd couldn’t sound more serious. Riley thought this was still not the time to say anything in response, so he kept silent.
“I think my big brother had changed recently.”
“Big brother had changed?”
“Recently… No, perhaps he had been like that since a long time ago, but I feel that something had gone wrong with the big brother.”
This was not really surprising to Riley.
“Do you remember when your maid was coughing blood on the corridor recently?”
“Yes, I still remember.”
“How my big brother reacted back then… I wonder if his behavior was becoming of our Iphalleta family’s image.”
Lloyd thought about how his big brother told him they should just watch a dying person be when they saw Nainiae coughing blood as if she was about to die. Thinking about it made Lloyd cringe.
“About my mother too… Perhaps it is not right to say this to you, but I have a bit of suspicion toward my big brother because of the fact that he was not ashamed of our mother about that day.”
After that, Lloyd’s story unfolded in great detail. However, to summarize, it was as followed.
It seemed Ryan was completely heartless, devoid of blood or tears.
Lloyd did not think Ryan’s personality was becoming of Iphalleta’s image.
Somehow, Lloyd was strongly feeling that Ryan should not become Iphalleta’s successor.
“So, what do you think?”
“What do you mean by that question?”
“About our big brother becoming the successor.”
Before long, Lloyd already emptied the tea, and now he was glaring at Riley as if he was going to burn a hole through him with the gaze.
“I know you don’t like how I have been acting. You didn’t like me for years. I understand that hearing this from me out of the blue must sound very suspicious. However, I would like you to also know that I am… telling you this after having thought about it and deliberated on it for a very long time.”
Not quite at the age of the adulthood yet, Lloyd still had a bit of the look of a boy. The lower parts of his eyes were dark, and it must be because he had been agonizing over this countless times before telling this to Riley.
After agonizing over and then some…
It seemed Lloyd barely managed to decide what would be the right thing to do.
“I had been following my big brother’s back all this time, so I don’t have much. So, instead of me, I would like you to stop him.”
“Big brother, just what are you talking about all of sudden?”
Riley asked back, and Lloyd continued with a boundlessly serious face.
“… Please, you do it.”
‘Do it? Do what?’
“You have the medal of honor from the Solia, and you even have a High Circle mage who is loyal to you, don’t you? Of course, she is away from the mansion so she could be cured of her illness, but…”
Riley started to put Lloyd’s puzzle pieces together. Having realized what Lloyd was trying to say, Riley furrowed his brows.
“I’ll support you. Only then you will be able to beat big brother.”
“Please, you become the successor.”
“Big brother, just wait…”
“Succeeding the line after our father, I would like you to become the successor of Iphalleta.”
In the hotel room with just Riley and Lloyd, a pretty long moment of silence came by.
Could it be because of the silence? In the quiet room, the ticking sound seemed like it was getting louder.
Inside the clock, the clock’s second hand and…
Inside the clock, the clock spring was…
Slowly, it was moving slowly.